Malta’s foray in Club Med
This paper has been the only one to question the Prime Minister’s presence at the Athens mini-summit a few days ago. Nor were its points replied to by the government. Now more details have emerged about that meeting.
First of all, after Brexit, these countries that attended the Athens meeting can now block EU progress through becoming a blocking minority. No details have emerged about any agreement along these lines, but one hopes our government did not sign up to any such agreement, not even in principle.
Calling the Athens meeting a Club Med meeting is rather improper: Portugal, one of the participants, is not in the Mediterranean.
Nor are they all led by socialists: Cyprus and Spain have centre-right governments and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy was pointedly absent since he has a low opinion of Greece’s Tsipras, the host of the meeting.
Nevertheless the meeting has led to Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble to say he despairs about the solutions offered by the Left.
The presence of France’s Francois Hollande
can be explained as seeking more to impress the electorate back home with his leftist credentials than anything else.
In the EU, and more markedly now, regional meetings are normal. We have seen how strong the positions of the Visegrad nations – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – were after the Bratislava summit as regards the Brexit negotiations.
The EU’s Nordic and Baltic nations also meet regularly.
The Athens meeting, at which our prime minister – who we haven’t heard express any reservations at all – was present, concluded with the signing of the Athens document, which has been described as a “rather unfocused demand for EU economic policies that put the accent on growth and employment rather than on austerity.”
Markus Ferber, a conservative Bavarian MEP, described the Athens meeting as “a strong coalition of reform-resistant redistributors.”
More than anything else, however, the Athens meeting was inevitably overshadowed by the host, Greece, and its never-ending fight against Brussels and the ECB.
Last year, after seven months of inept leadership which almost led to Greece being kicked out of the eurozone, premier Tsipras did a huge U-Turn and signed up to a €86 billion international rescue, Greece’s third bailout since 2010. But now, as was emphasised by eurozone finance ministers who were meeting at the same time in Bratislava, a year after, Greece has only implemented two of the 15 reforms signed up to the EU. Worse, Tsipras is allowing a criminal prosecution in a blatantly politicised case against the former head of the national statistical agency.
We thus ask again: was it in Malta’s interest to be at such a meeting? Did Malta express any reservations as to the common document and as regards the behaviour of the host country? Is it in Malta’s interest to be in such a regional grouping and allow it to be taken over by growing rhetoric that is not shared by other members of the EU? Is it in Malta’s overall interest to be considered as offering political cover to delinquent policies such as have brought Greece to its knees?